Data provides the proof points of our grant programs. Without data, funders are unaware if their programs create a positive impact or not. Last week, we highlighted two data sets to track – transactional data and impact data. This week, we focus on the importance of providing qualitative and quantitative data to paint a complete picture of your grant initiatives.

What’s all this about numbers?

Qualitative data are the statistics and numbers that provide insight into your grant programs such as transactional and impact data. You may track the dollar amount of the grants you’ve distributed in your community, the number of individuals impacted through your grant contributions, or the number of counties/geographical areas you serve.

Indicators of success provide even more proof points for your programs. By providing this grant, how did your beneficiaries lives change for the better? Did they improve their financial literacy skills? Did they receive a loan which they then used to start their own business? This colorful data allows the funder to track their success year after year.

After you identify the qualitative data you would like to track, review this data on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis with your board and team. It’s important to review this data frequently in order to ensure your foundation’s efforts progress.

The people behind the statistics

In addition to qualitative data, it’s important to also track and feature quantitative data. Quantitative data are the stories behind the organizations, individuals, beneficiaries, and supporters that uniquely represent your organization and its values. This type of data may be more critical in garnering support for your organization as individuals relate to stories more easily than large numbers.

Dr. Paul Slovic conducts research on a topic called “psychic numbing” which points to an individual’s tendency to become apathetic when processing large numbers. For example, when faced with an issue such as the refugee crisis which affects 68.5 million people globally, we may find it difficult to make an impact. However, if we read a story in which one child needs medical care; this cause seems more tangible and easier to make a difference through our contributions. Dr. Slovic continues that not only is it important that journalists and funders share stories surrounding humanitarian crises or charitable needs but also provide a way for individuals to take action. (If you want to learn more about Dr. Slovic and psychic numbing, check out this article).

Stories create connections

Your qualitative stories provide faces to the individuals you serve. Your donors and supporters resonate with these individuals, find similarities with their stories, and connect with their personal dreams and goals. As indicated via Dr. Slovic’s research, these stories will encourage giving. Furthermore, they will humanize your work, and in a time when the general public craves positive news, they will provide inspiration and hope for the future.

As funders, we must provide qualitative data to demonstrate the validity of our grant programs. These data points provide us with confidence that our programs meet our objectives and funding goals. Additionally, we must collaborate with our nonprofit partners to uncover stories surrounding our beneficiaries. These stories demonstrate our human impact and deepen our connection with our community members. With both qualitative and quantitative data, we demonstrate our work in a way that appeals to our head and heart.

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